calligraphy, desert landscapes, odd animal portraits

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belvedere

7.1.20

Throughout spring and summer I have been doing a lot of work on the Roofing House, while unable to get into Howe- scraping plaster off the plywood interior, I scrape, dust, then patch with Zinsser 1-2-3 in short rectangular brush strokes , sand, touch up with paint patches of color, purple sky, blue sky, pink sky, as I go along.

With Art’s help, moving out about 2 dozen motors, machinery, dozens of cans of dead house paint, spray paint, tubes of caulk and construction adhesive and the like–and there is more–oily, filthy, nasty stuff, much of which went to hazardous waste recycling. Recall we had leveled the supports after the Incident of the Falling Tree.

We reconfigured some of the shelving to make a long tall work bench, and have developed a fantasy of installing the 58″ square sectioned french window we bought for the house-that-became-a-deck. It would be nice to have some natural light, and a reading chair back there–maybe next year.

I have started taking advantage of three empty filing cabinets that aren’t going anywhere soon, and plan to keep one that has cool half-deep drawers.

Stuff in, stuff out. It’s chaos, but it keeps shifting and getting a bit clearer, and is so special to have all my things right at hand, nobody chewing on my brushes and peeing on my art while I am gone. I can see down the tracks and up the path, and no one knows I’m here.

Goodbye Kitty

goodbye kitty apron

6.17.20

Somewhere in here I lost my faux enthusiasm for things I did twice weekly in the Before Times. Playing music for beer and french fries, struggling to herd cats and possums and hippies without a paddle, etc. I knew right away the RELIEF!!! of not having to Stop whatever I was doing, Stage myself in Berkeley, Pack and Haul equipment up and down stairs and around the corner to play for two hours to an empty venue for a half-cheeseburger, half-pitcher of beer, and $3 in tips. Well, it was a good run, mostly fun until the backstabbing started. What a relief, yes, three months in, to say I am done, and DONE.

Tara and I have been working on new material since shortly after the shut-down-in-place began, me taking the lead vocal on several of her tunes, almost out of my range. My voice is getting stronger and clearer, and I have managed to maintain calluses on my fingertips. Since his arm injury from the Serenellini at the last Polka Cowboys gig, Art has taken up electric guitar with a vengeance.

Var Mints LIVE! (not)

Gomer and Tara came to Canyon last Sunday to join in a live facebook event, and luckily I was unable to bypass my three Apple devices’ security filters to broadcast. We ended up with six delightful–to me, anyway–recordings that I was able to post later. Had it been live, considering the difficulties, it would have been worse than unwatchable. My hair was clean and fluffy, the weather sublime, Art’s wacky shack a perfect backdrop–plastic window and all. I was in fine voice, and did a song of Tara’s, sans bass, that I barely knew: Twilight Moonrise. She did Love of a Good Cat. Gomer was the grip and tech advisor, and positioned my iPhone behind the Woodstock wood stove, cutting off our legs. The quality of the iPhone 4 voice recording was astonishing.

check it out- Var Mints on facebook. I won’t go, but you can.

I don’t see any venues opening anytime soon. Even then, how will people react to a SINGER? Run in horror? Come at me with torches and pitchforks? Mask-shaming on facebook? Yes, I have seen it.

I can barely picture sitting in a window box, like at Giovanni’s, as customers drift by or stand on line to pick up to-go orders. Maybe a stage way at the back of an empty 30-foot patio? There are no festivals for the foreseeable, even outdoors. The sandwich board at Caffe Chiave still says “Live Music”, but it is only a shadow of the past. The Missouri Lounge is gone.

It is a New World.

please wait here–forever

shelter in place

5.12.20
We are livin the life here in Canyon, I planted two apple trees and a bunch of pepper and cherry tomato plants, beets, onions and whatnot, wiring everything against the marauding deer.  I am scrounging soil from everywhere to build up terraces over the rocky subsoil.  Art built a sawbuck and uses my chainsaw to make firewood (and sawdust) of the many redwood and bay branches and random long pieces of old lumber that are scattered everywhere.  It’s great to be able to get so much done, without all the pesky distractions of public life.  new garden

sawbuck

Art and I joined an online video chat/party with some other folks, they gather often but we only attended once,  for about an hour.  Some people go on and on, some not speaking at all, devolving into the same talk of cures and illnesses and other distressing foolishness I prefer not to partake of.  When I go to a party, I usually hang out in the garage with the stoners– a group of 12 people is too much.

pink chairNow and then I spend two or three days in Berkeley, where it is clean civilized and quiet, mostly (avoiding the front doorknob is a challenge)-Stuff to do there, too!

I do a little garden work, though with not much enthusiasm.  I am enjoying being retired, cutting back but not eliminating.

I have been visiting back and forth with Joanie and working up more of her songs.  Art injured his arm just as the lockdown happened, so he has barely played his accordions since, daily practicing electric guitar on youtube.

As I have the Capricorn stellium moving into my 12th house, I am setting up my retreat, practicing hermitage in my understory studio, befriending little black scorpions that live under every wooden structure here–plus moles? voles?

roofing house

birthday

5.4.20

out my window 4.16.20

prompted to draw “from my window” for a Canyon Draws facebook site, here is the view from my chair by the woodstove.

Meanwhile, starting a sign to hang down the road, thanks to radio podcasts about the history of Canyon, and random people driving through to see the hippies.

This about sums it up.

no exit

On and On

What day is it?  No one knows.  Oh, my computer knows–4.12.20

The shelter in place has been extended, the Plough has a go-fund-me site, and raised $30,000 to keep from going under.

moon trees

I secured a slightly-used sketchbook Art had as a travel journal while on tour with Those Darn Accordions, and then abandoned.  The art stores are closed, and I have not ventured out to the one possible stationers that might be open, and I do not like to shop online if there are Options.  So, drawing over partial pages, then writing, writing, writing.

Parks and beaches and campgrounds are also closed, so there goes my spring camping trip.

Trying not to get caught up in the madness, making polenta and stews on the woodstove, sitting for hours with a warm cat on my lap, reading.

smoky

Moving art supplies back and forth, I am getting an idea of where things work.  I am firmly established in the Roofing House, since two incidents where it was made known to locals that it is my art studio–particularly the day the tree fell while I was there, and Ian happened by with a chainsaw and cut it all away.

Art and I ventured out to Joanie’s house in Richmond for music and food and an artichoke plant, and an avocado tree, seedlings from her childhood home in Hayward.  We are working up some tunes of hers with me singing lead.  We also stopped at Annie’s Annuals, I got two blueberry bushes, peppers, onions, to plant in Canyon.

The novelty has worn off–we would have been at the end of this strange confinement by now, which has been extended  .  .  .  The Plough is in danger of not reopening.  Caffe Chiave- most small businesses and venues are closed indefinitely.  Honestly, I am ambivalent, but like, YAY!  I don’t ever need to go back to the Lost Hippy Hour, or some of these gardening jobs..  Schedules!  I’m done!  Shopping is disturbing, people are rattled, clerks feel endangered, the protocol is curious, confusing, changes daily, and from store to store.

Just before it all closed down, Art had suggested we go to a movie.  The next day, I drove by the Shattuck Theater to see the marquee blank.  We have taken to watching Youtube videos of black and white movies at night, usually with buttered popcorn.  Life is good.

Hunkering

3.24.20

A week ago the world changed- we are on lockdown, or as it is called “social distancing” a speedy upgrade from the pre- St. Patrick’s Day weekend when it was suggested people “self isolate” and bars were asked to consider closing to stop the spread of a virus. sparsley

When I heard the news on March 16 that bars and restaurants were ordered closed, and all my gigs were cancelled until April, I grabbed two orders of corned beef and cabbage (and a last beer at the bar), withdrew $300 cash, filled my gas tank and drove straight to Canyon.  Art and I since ventured out once, on March 21st, to get groceries.  A minor ordeal with gloves, masks, strange new practices of standing six feet apart in lines to enter or check out at the grocery store.   There was an early, insane run on toilet paper ??

I also ordered a replacement pair of Crave boots online, on sale because of the color, “brunette”. Gorgeous-  and they match my kerchief- required anytime one goes out in public.  Spending more time here in the redwoods, or braving the wilds of Moraga Safeway, I will need good, strong boots.

On the train

On the return trip from the music festival in Nebraska– I painted a glorious full moon over the Rockies.  The best part-  other than the train ride itself- was two days we extended our trip to visit people who turned out to be unavailable.  We goofed off in Omaha, burgers, beer, $2 movies, thrift stores, antique malls, hikes around the lake.  We returned home to the famous random N. Cal power shutdown fiasco.
train trees.jpg

fortha july

So quiet here in Canyon this holiday with everybody mostly gone.  Art and I played the Plough happy hour gig, then back for a nonexistent party.

I have been using two or three different brushes constantly this year, particularly a 1″ flat Princeton and a #4 round Raphael travel brush, with Winsor Newton, Sennelier and Pelikan watercolors.

sempervirens fund watercolor

3×4″ watercolor sketch in moleskine journal

Lettering and random brush strokes is a thing right now.  Yes, two things can be a thing.  A stained chair cover spontaneously updated with sume-i ink straight and diluted, and a first iteration of the “$1,000, FINE FOR LETTERING” sign are examples.

I went haywire with some house paint and the 1″ flat in the roofing house, painting a plywood wall panel and putting together a small matching panel and another newsprint-collage-on-tiny-stretched-canvas piece.   Deeply meaningful transformative story of discovery I will not subject you to, about family and creativity and home and how I became an artist at a young age.  I took some shots with my iPad of the interior and small paintings, I will post them later.

an odd synchrony of images

taken a day apart

IMG_4346

travel journal, march 2017, painted may 2019

IMG_4352

evening shadows, May 21, 2019

And Howe

Back to Howe- my garage studio is getting a lot of use lately.  A kind of a miracle when the owner moved away and took the dog that had chosen me as her personal project, barking furiously and frantically at my presence.  In the move and subsequent upgrade of the back of the house, the electricity to the garage was disconnected-  Incredibly freeing once I removed all the various electrical devices: lamps, water boiler, heater, projector, a tuner and turntable and crate of LP’s I had just moved in.  All this STUFF was in the way of my practice.

First the chaos, then slowly putting things back together, leaner, not meaner.  Much more room now, and a big reorganization of frames, canvases, materials.  Lucky I am for the enormous south facing window, and knowing how to dress and work in the weather.

The owner left many cans of house paint for me to recycle, and I have been painting everything white- a step stool I found on the street and repaired.  I painted the dingy wall, and put nails up and down the studs in a grid to hang frames on.  I repaired and repainted the five frames I had built from scrap house trim for my apple illustrations– so fresh and excellent.